So what feels like a lifetime ago, I ran the Boston Marathon. It was a year before we had our first child, and it happened to be on my birthday. I was so fired up! At that time, the times were a little slower to qualify, so I just made it in. I was so, so excited.
If you know anything about the Boston Marathon, you’ve heard about Heartbreak Hill. It’s this huge hill towards the end of the marathon, probably right around mile 20. The rest of the marathon is either flat or downhill. So that was where I asked my husband to meet me – at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. I figured I would need some encouragement at that point, as you can imagine! The plan was he was going to meet me at the bottom and run the rest of the marathon with me to the end (about a 10K).
I vividly remember running that marathon. We started at noon, and cranked away at those miles. I was gearing up mentally to conquer that hill, and as I neared that 20 mile marker, I kept looking over towards the crowd for my husband. The hill loomed right ahead of me, but still. No husband. Where the heck was he?
I continued trudging up the hill, struggling but determined to not stop. About halfway up, I thought to myself, “How could he miss this? I needed him! Where WAS HE??” The bubbling anger and annoyance helped drive me up the hill.
I finally got to the top of the hill, and eventually saw my husband. In between gasps, I said to him, “Where were you?? What happened?? You missed Heartbreak Hill, babe!!!”
And you know what he said to me? “Umm, no I didn’t. It’s still up ahead.”
My heart sank. I wanted to cry. LORD have mercy, I clearly didn’t look at the elevation map carefully enough.
I was thinking about that hysterical moment in my life the other day (funny now, not so funny in the moment). It made me think about how we can do the exact same thing to God sometimes. We’re ready for Him to step in, and do something. And it seems like He just missed the moment entirely. We’re left confused, frustrated, and sometimes even angry. Where in the world was He when we needed Him the most?
Obviously my husband showed up, he encouraged me up the hill, and I eventually finished the race. That’s not always how the LORD works, but one thing I know is true – He is never late, He is rarely early, but He’s always, always right on time.
We can’t pigeonhole God
We serve a God that can NOT be fit into a box. It’s easy to get confused on what He’s doing. I’ve thought to myself, why couldn’t Saul have met Jesus before He was crucified? Why did God wait? Or why did Bonhoeffer have to be killed two weeks before the Allies won? And why, after waiting for so long to get married, did Elisabeth Elliot have to lose her husband after just a few years of marriage?
I don’t get it. It’s as if we’re stuck on that first hill, thinking we’re on some Heartbreak Hill in our life and God is NOT showing up where we expect Him to. Where we even NEED Him to, from our perspective.
Why oh why
The thing is, we may never understand the “why’s” on this side of heaven. The LORD is certainly always with us, but He may not reveal His presence for several years, and only in hind-sight. Or He may just wait until we’re in Glory with Him to clue us in as to what was going on. But we can trust that whatever His plan is, it is good. Even when we’re struggling as we climb the mountains the LORD has chosen to give us to climb. We don’t always have to understand. We just need to trust Him and keep on climbing in obedience, with joy.
I pray that whatever situation you may find yourself in today, you remember that God has a plan. He will meet us where we most need Him, and according to His will. He is good and can be trusted, whether or not we understand. Praise God for the many saints who have gone before us who can testify to this fact! Check out the autobiographies and biographies of incredible people who trusted God on the MHM booklist!